Hawkeyes Are Accused of “Pink-Shaming” Their Opponents

by Jason Epstein

Might the color of a visiting team’s locker room at a major Midwestern university be a matter of interest to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights?

Jill Gaulding, a cofounder of the advocacy group Gender Justice, claims that the University of Iowa is engaged in “pink shaming” and “cognitive bias” by making its football team’s opponents dress and undress in a locker room that is painted . . . pink:

“Most people understand the pink locker room as a taunt against the other team, calling them a bunch of ladies/girls/sissies/pansies/etc.,” according to an information sheet Gaulding and Gender Justice law partner Lisa Stratton distributed to the workshop attendees.

Gaulding’s handout quoted a passage from Fry’s autobiography where he said pink was a “passive” color and might put opponents in a passive mood. “Also, pink is often found in girls’ bedrooms, and because of that some consider it a sissy color,” according to a quote Gaulding said she took from Fry’s book.

Gaulding said she believes the university could be subject to a lawsuit if it maintains the pink locker room. The UI receives federal funding and is covered by Title IX and Title VII rules, which prohibit discrimination based on gender.

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